We had the good fortune of connecting with Ali Manning and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ali, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn. I’m a firm believer in taking risks, yet sometimes those risks are not always calculated.
I was “set free,” a fancy word for fired from my job back in August of 2019, and I knew I was about to embark on a transformation. I describe it as a wave of joy and peace rushing over my body. See, I didn’t quite rush off to find work; I had been a shell of myself for so long that it was important for me to discover who I truly was and rediscover what I liked to do. So, After months of self-care, inner work, and constant meditation Umami Food Consulting was birthed, and I finally felt like I was on the path to realizing the risk.
The risk was, I didn’t know what food business consulting entailed. Could it make money? Is there a need for it? So I began pulling my resources and combining my expertise from 9 years in the food industry to create a business to serve food entrepreneurs. With the support of my husband, I took a risk starting my own business, not truly understanding the concept but knowing what I was capable of. Clients began to roll in, and then the pandemic hit…so I pivoted and took another not-so-calculated risk.
I’ve always loved science and education, so after a brief poll in my IG stories, Food Science 4 Kids launched, and it has been one of my greatest accomplishments yet! FS4Kids is a national virtual (and in-person) learning program for grade school children to learn science-related food. We are still expanding our classes and reach and inspiring little ones daily.
Getting fired became the catalyst for my fearless ability to take risks today. I needed that push, and it has propelled me further into my destiny of finally living a life of joy, doing meaningful work, serving my community, and inspiring others to seize the day; “Carpe Diem!”
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m proud that Umami Food Consulting was founded and led by a Black female food scientist. With the support of my husband, I took a risk starting my own business, not truly understanding the concept but knowing what I was capable of. I began offering multiple services but realized how important it was to find my niche. Since then, I’ve paired down to branding & packaging, nutritional analysis, and regulatory services. One of the most rewarding things is providing tangible strategies and support that creates results and helps food entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Leaning into my niche has helped me gain new clients and opportunities and expand beyond the Memphis midsouth. There are always challenges when starting a new company, but unfortunately, some people will challenge your worth because you are a Black woman. I’ve overcome that through building client trust, improving my portfolio, open communication, and education.
Among my latest projects is Food Science 4 Kids. FS4Kids is a national virtual (and in-person) learning program for grade school children to learn science-related food. During the pandemic, children nationwide learned together, although we were apart and connected during one of the most difficult times of our lifetime. We learned about things from chocolate science to composting and did so many fun experiments along the way. We are still expanding our classes and reach and inspiring little ones daily. These businesses are a testament to that there’s so much power to recognize an idea, speak it, write it down, and then act upon it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A week-long trip must include Shelby Farms, Beale Street, and Graceland (if Elvis that’s your sort of thing). Festival season is like nonother in Memphis; from the Levitt Shell concert series to Memphis in May, there’s always something fun to do. The latest features are Tiger & Peacock and the Hyatt Centric Rooftop bar overlooking the Mississippi River. Some of my favorite places are off the beaten path, like Cozy Corner bbq, 17 Berkshire, or Ching’s wings. Also, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but a few of my favorites are Porch & Parlor, Soul Fish, and Pho Bihn’s (lemongrass tofu). My love of food runs deep, but we’ve got some of the best bars and breweries in the nation like Memphis Made, Grind City Brew, and Wiseacre, to name a few. Check them out!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my husband and biggest supporter, Brian Manning, and my incredible family and friends.
Brian Manning IG@photos.bybe Manning Visuals, LLC